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The Papers of Jack Le Vien

Reference Code: GBR/0014/LEVN

Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence, papers and photographs relating mainly to the films made by Le Vien based on Churchill's war memoirs.


  • Creation: 1929 - 1993

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

John Douglas (Jack) Le Vien was born in New York on 18 July 1918. He joined Pathe News as an office boy in the 1930s, later becoming a film editor and then a reporter. He served in the US Army as a press officer (1941-1945) including as press attaché to General Eisenhower. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the French Legion d'honneur. After the war he re-joined Pathe News as a news editor, later becoming general manager, editor-in-chief and finally vice-president. After Pathe News closed down, Le Vien was director of production at Hearst Metronome News, 1956-1959. He then joined ABC-Television as a producer, where he made "The Valiant Years" (1961), before leaving to set up his own company, Le Vien International Productions. He won an Oscar in 1963 for his film "The Black Fox" on Hitler’s rise to power. He made further films based on Churchill’s life and, with the co-operation of the Duke of Windsor, a film on the abdication crisis ("A King’s Story"). He died on 9 November 1999.

Le Vien’s films include: "The Black Fox" (1962); "The Finest Hours" (1964); "A King’s Story" (1965); "The Other World of Winston Churchill" (1966); "Walk with Destiny" [also called "The Gathering Storm"] (1974); and "Churchill and the Generals" (1979). His publications include books based on three of his productions: "The Valiant Years" (1962); "The Finest Hours" (1964); and "Churchill and the Generals" (1981).


4.5 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were deposited at Churchill Archives Centre by the Executors of Jack Le Vien, with the co-operation of Lady Catto (his widow).


This collection (fonds) level description and catalogue was prepared by Caroline Herbert of Churchill Archives Centre in May 2010. Biographical information has been obtained from Le Vien’s obituaries in "The Times", "The Independent" and "The Guardian"; dates of the films have been taken from the British Film Institute Film & TV database (


Vien, John Douglas Le, 1918-1999, film maker

2010-04-07 14:16:24+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087